Friday, October 29, 2010

Lies I have told my kids

I'm reading this hilarious book called Such a Pretty Fat and in it Jen Lancaster, the author relays a conversation she is having with her stay-at-home mom friend Stacey.

Stacey is telling Jen that Jen doesn't look like she has gained weight and this is what Jen thinks: "Of course, Stacey is a mom and routinely lies all day--for example, That fluffy bunny on the side of the road is covered in delicious raspberry jam! And he's napping; shhh! Don't wake him!--so I am not quick to believe her."

This got me to thinking about the lies I tell my kids. The lies that I swore I would never tell. Here are a few:

"I'll be there in one minute."/ "I'll be off the phone in a second."

"This is going to hurt me more than it hurts you."

"Broccoli is just as yummy as chips, even better."/ "No, there are no onions in this."

"We are all out of the ice cream." / "McDonald's is all out of soda/french fries."

"The bubble gum machine/VCR/vending machine/Snoopy Sno-Cone machine is broken."

"I wish I could play Thomas the Train with you right now (for the 75,000th time this week) but I really have to work on the computer."

"I don't have a quarter for the gumball machine."

"We can't afford that toy right now." OR "I don't have money with me." (I was busted on this one. Danny reached into my purse and pulled out a wad of cash from my wallet and said, "Here's some money, mommy. Now you can buy me that toy.")

"If you don't get in the car this instant, I will leave you home alone!" I know, I really need to quit using this one. Someday, Charlotte is going to call my bluff.

"Mommy and Daddy are just wrestling."

"Sorry, we can't take in that stray cat, because it's kitty mommy and daddy would miss it too much and they'd be sad."

"Wendy's isn't open today."

Does this reveal what a horrible mom I am? Probably.

So, what about you? What lies have you told your kids?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Check me out!

Today, I'm over at Hartley's Life with Three Boys, which if you have never read it, is a treasure trove of information about Sensory Processing Disorder. It's an amazing resource for parents with kids with special needs, so check it out.

And I'm not just saying that because Hartley asked me to write for her blog today!

Thursday, October 21, 2010

that was then, this is now


The other day after Tommy had made no less than 87 messes in 60 minutes--this includes him banging on my laptop keyboard and losing the covering for the "a" key, so if I miss any "a's" in this post, you'll know why--I couldn't help thinking back to the days when I was unencumbered by children.

You know, those glorious days when you were never accompanied in the shower--unless you wanted the company, of course.

THEN:
I used to be able to go to the bathroom with no visitors. And when I sat down to eat, I could do so in peace with no interruptions whatsoever.

NOW:
I don't even bother to close the bathroom door anymore. It's easier to just let the kids come and go while I take care of my business, since it is very unsettling and distracting to listen to kids screeching, "Mommy, mommy, mommy, mommy, let me INNNNNNNN!" outside the door.

This, all so I can take care of dire emergencies that couldn't possibly wait the 3.7 minutes it would take me to wrap things up. You know, emergencies like having a granola bar that Charlotte can't unwrap; those sorts of crises need immediate attention, you know.

THEN:
Errands were infinitely easier to run. I saw a man coming out of the grocery store the other day with just a box of popsicles. I couldn't help but think how crazy it was to run to the store for one item. That was when I remembered back when I could run into a store and be done faster than you can unbuckle a car seat.

NOW:
It takes 15 minutes just to rustle everyone into the car fully clothed and shod. Never mind having to remember to grab Tommy's blanket and bring a sippy cup of "ice cold water, mommy" for Charlotte.

And then I have to contend with kids bickering and begging for treats. "Please, mommy, we need TWO bags of Cheetos. Please, please, please. I will die if you don't buy them for me. Aahaaahhhhhh!" I think you know of which I speak.

THEN:
Back then, in my life before kids, Bil and I actually went on dates. Even after we were married. Shocking, I know, but true. We rode our bikes all over Chicago and went to movies when the mood struck us. We even ate at restaurants that did not have play lands or kids' meals.

NOW:
Going on a date takes herculean effort and advance planning, not to mention expense. By the time I have hunted down a babysitter and then cleaned the house so the sitter won't report to her mom how slovenly we are, prepared dinner, gotten the kids ready for bed, and hunted down all three of their blankets, I don't have the energy to go out anymore.

THEN:
I could exercise without getting up before dawn. Not that I did it all that often, but still. I could have, if I had wanted to.

NOW:
If I don't get up at 5:30 to exercise, it becomes next to impossible to get a full workout in. Charlotte always decides to join me in my aerobicizing, so I spend much of the workout pleading with her to take her Care Bears and clear out of my way or one of us is going to end up with a sprained ankle. And when I do any toning, I invariably have Tommy interfering. Either he comes super close to getting brained by my weights or kettlebell or he is climbing all over me while I am doing ab work, laughing all the way.

THEN:
I could leave my belongings wherever I wanted and feel confident they would still be there when I came back to retrieve them.

NOW:
If I leave my purse on a chair--which I unwisely did a few weeks back--I will most likely come back to find a certain mischievous toddler--and much of my house--covered in my brand new lipstick.

And if leave the bathroom door open there's a good chance that the unnamed toddler will end up using my toothbrush to play in the toilet.

THEN:
I had a job, one that I was pretty good at. One that actually paid me money to do. One where I received good reviews and had a bit of respect.

NOW:
Charlotte informed me the other day that I was not the boss. Danny is.

And I get no money. The closest thing to a bonus I get are the hugs and kisses my kids bestow upon me throughout the day, which come to think of it, are much sweeter than a benefits package.

And instead of reviews from my principal or fellow teachers, I have kids who run to meet me when I have been gone for a few hours squealing about how happy they are to see me. I get the occasional compliment, like when Danny informed me the other day that I was "the best cooker in the whole world!" And I have kids who beg me to play with them, who want to spend time with me more than anyone else in the world, and who love to crawl into bed with me in the morning.

THEN:
I knew nothing about being a special needs parent; I knew nothing about IEPs, SPD, OT, ST and ABA. The only things I knew about autism were from watching The Boy Who Could Fly and Rainman.

NOW:
I know the heartache and loneliness that comes when you discover your kid is different. I know the sleepless nights spent worrying about my kid's future. I am well acquainted with many forms of treatment and therapy for SPD and autism. I am my kids' advocate.

I am now pretty good at calming any child down--I have become quite expert at distracting kids by rolling them in a blanket to play the "hot dog game," having them help me push on the walls to "make the room bigger," and finger painting with pudding.

I don't take things for granted like I used to. Now, when one of my children learns a new skill, I celebrate. I appreciate how much hard work it takes for Danny and Charlotte to function in spite of their sensory issues, and I notice their strengths and talents more than I might have had they not had these struggles.

And when Danny's report card came home the other day and the teacher wrote these simple, seemingly insignificant phrases: "Danny is a good example for others. He is kind, polite, well-mannered" I reread the words multiple times always with tears in my eyes.

You can probably guess that I wouldn't trade now for all the dates and mornings sleeping in for the world.

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Visit the Spin Cycle and check out some other bloggers' take on the theme of "Then and Now."

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sensational Book


In honor of SPD Awareness Month, I thought I would write a review of a relatively new SPD book. I happened to win this book in a contest months ago when it was first published. This is Gabriel Making Sense of School is by Hartley Steiner (who also has a blog called Hartley's Life with 3 Boys) and her son Gabriel.

I have been meaning to write this review for months. Heck, I have been meaning to read this book for months. But don't misunderstand. The only reason I have been unable to read This is Gabriel Making Sense of School is because the minute it arrived in the mail, Danny absconded with the book and wouldn't allow anyone to peruse it. He read it and admired the pictures endlessly. Then, he must have hidden the book, because I could never find it.

Every once in a while, it would resurface, but Danny would again guard it jealously, and I was never allowed close enough to even turn a page, let alone read it.

This is quite an endorsement. Danny has never taken to a book in quite this way before. He loves books, don't get me wrong, but he has never been so possessive with one. Danny told me that he really likes the book and loves the pictures.

And I have to agree. This book is great. Though it is marketed as a kids' book, it is a perfect introduction to SPD for adults, as well. This is Gabriel Making Sense of School is about exactly what the title implies; the book outlines what SPD is and how it might manifest itself at school. Hartley explains very simply and accurately what types of challenges an SPD kid faces everyday at school.

It is easy to read, and Hartley gives such great examples of potential sensory land mines that I think are often overlooked, like the smells in the cafeteria and how distracting and possibly disturbing they can be.

I highly recommend this book. It is perfect for families with SPD kids, but it is also great for teachers, extended family members and anyone who you would like to educate on SPD.

Check it out! I think you'll love it.

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Disclaimer: I won the book in a contest. I was not required to write a review to win the book. I chose to review the book on my own, because I think it is a valuable resource.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

that time of year again

As many of you may already know, October is Sensory Processing Disorder Awareness Month. In honor of this, Hartley at Hartley's Life with Three Boys is hosting a month-long event to raise awareness and money for the SPD Foundation. She is highlighting an SPD family every day for the entire month of October.

And she is having amazing giveaways! So, go check out her blog and read the terrific posts of so many amazing people who deal with SPD on a daily basis. You won't regret it!

Friday, October 1, 2010

cinnamon rolls: a legacy of love


I just whipped up a batch of cinnamon roll dough with the kids. As I gave them each a pinch of dough to enjoy, I remembered my Great Grandma. She died when I was quite young--I am not even actually sure when--so, I don't have very many memories of her.

The only memories I have involve her cinnamon rolls (or "sweet rolls", as she called them). She was famous for them, and I specifically remember her making them for us whenever she visited from Minnesota. She always let us kids eat some dough and often gave us scraps to play with.

It seemed like an interminable wait until the dough had risen and the rolls had cooked, icing had been whipped up and they were finally ready to eat.

But they were always well worth the wait.

I wish Grandma Anderson were here to guide me as I make these cinnamon rolls, to give me pointers, and to see that I am passing along her tradition to my kids. She probably thought nothing of baking for us, her great grandchildren, but it has stuck with me and made an imprint, and I want her to know that.

For a while now, I have been wishing I could do more, make more of an impact on the world. I see other women who do such amazing things, all while also raising children, and I wonder why I can't do more. Why can't I handle getting a job or volunteering more? And I guess I just want to feel like my contribution to the world is significant.

I wish I could do some great big thing that affects my community, start some amazing movement to galvanize people for change. I wish I could do something big to help.

The longer I think about it, however, the more I realize that right now in my life, I can only handle small acts of service: taking a meal to someone sick, delivering Meals on Wheels once a month, typing up the PTO newsletter, babysitting for a friend. Though I long to do more, like teach some classes at the community college or be a literacy volunteer, I feel that my family would suffer if I took on a major commitment at this point in my life.

As I ponder the cinnamon rolls that are rising right now, I realize that it is often the small, seemingly insignificant moments and actions that influence a person. It doesn't always take grand gestures or large sacrifices to make an imprint on a person. Most of the things I remember about my family members are not big trips or expensive presents, but the small kindnesses.

Like Great Grandma and her sweet rolls.

Recently, my Aunt S. celebrated her 70th birthday and in her honor, I picked people's brains and came up with 70 reasons we love her. In the process, we remembered so many small moments that meant a lot to us, like the many sleepovers she hosted and the fun crafts with recycled Christmas cards she helped us make. I still have some of those ornaments that I hang on my Christmas tree every year.

The thing is, Aunt S. was surprised at all the great memories we had with her. She told my mom that it was nice to learn that she had made a difference in our lives. I can't believe she wouldn't know what an influence she was, but, in a way, I understand. She didn't work outside the home, she didn't spearhead some great big movement for social change. Yet, she did change the lives of those around her, and she continues to do so, typically by small and simple daily kindnesses.

And, you know, I think the same can be said for all of us.